Take a flight time of over 10 hours, add in a total distance of 5,200 miles, sprinkle a dash of intrepid exploring and mix in a heavy dose of nostalgia and history. What is the result? Our founder Chrissie Douglas and husband Andrew’s recent trip to the Mar de Cortez (also known as the Gulf of California) in search of the hallowed Perlas del Mar de Cortez, or Cortez Pearls, which, we are delighted to announce, will be on sale for the first time in London this year at Coleman Douglas Pearls.
Setting off from London, Chrissie and Andrew travelled to the Sonoran coast, after a wonderful journey through the sun drenched, cactus dotted Sonoran Desert. Greeted by the deep, inviting blue and turquoise hues of the Mar De Cortez, Chrissie and Andrew met with four marvelously passionate marine Biologists who are Perlas del Mar de Cortez.
Formed in 1996 with the objective of beginning a commercial cultivation of the “Concha Nácar” or “Rainbow lipped Pearl Oyster” [Pteria sterna oyster] Perlas Del Mar de Cortez consists of a small group of specialist marine biologists who are experts in the cultivation of these bivalve mollusks. Their experience in the experimental cultivation of other species like oysters, the “lion’s paw scallop” (Lyropecten subnudosus), the “catarina scallop” (Aequipecten circularis) and pearl oysters, motivated them to begin this commercial adventure, blending centuries old practices with advanced technology and research.
The company harvests half pearls or mabés, cultured pearls and Keshi pearls. All these have a fundamental characteristic, the quality of the incomparable mother pearl that has distinguished the nativePteria sterna pearls from the Gulf of California. These pearl farmers make extraordinary efforts to guarantee that the final product has the best quality, a good nacre coating and caring for the oysters so that after implanting the animals, nature creates its own miracle: the pearls.
What makes these ethically sourced and sustainable pearls so attractive is not just their luster or beauty. The operation ran by Perlas del Mar de Cortez guides the entire process from seeding to growth and finally handpicked harvesting by local Guaymas’ workers from a former Yaqui neighborhood. These workers inherit in their blood the well-known strength of the Yaqui tribe, the same native people that the Spanish Conquistadors employed to fish the pearl oysters from this bountiful sea. Indeed, it was during harvest season when Chrissie Douglas, our pearl Jewellery designer, and her husband, Andrew, arrived and they had the opportunity to take part in the harvest; a truly a once in a lifetime experience. The unrefined, vibrant scenery juxtaposed with the delicate harvest of the pearls. The gentle swell cascading over the rocky coast, the warming salty breeze from the tropical sea and the local seagulls and pelicans all transported our team to another world and another time.
Mexico also represented a personal connection to our founder, as she grew up and spent much of her youth in the district of Coyoacan in Mexico City, once Home to one of the best-known worldwide icons within Mexico, painter Frida Kahlo. The trip to Mexico saw Chrissie and Andrew wander the stone washed streets of Coyoacan again, visiting local markets, meeting old school friends at a special reunion and visiting La Casa de La Torre where the works of her father hang. The magic of their journey, which hasn’t ended just yet, will be on display as we proudly bring the Cortez Pearls to London in our handmade jewellery. It will be the very first time these iridescent orbs will be sold in the United Kingdom.